NYT Columnist Harvey Araton on Duke Lacrosse Accused: First the Smear, Then Silence
This week’s edition of Newsweek carries a devastating story suggesting the case is falling apart against three members of the Duke lacrosse team accused of rape. The phrase bannered across the cover: “Duke: Should The Case Be Dropped?” The story’s subhead: “The prosecutor insists his rape case is strong. One big problem: the facts thus far.”
So, what does Times sports columnist Harvey Araton have to say about this turn of events? After all, Araton went after the Duke lacrosse team in two previous columns, even attacking the university’s women’s lacrosse team for daring to defend their athletic colleagues.
From Araton’s June 2 piece, responding to reader’s complaints about his pro-accuser slant:
“Granted, it's human nature to form a hasty opinion about a sensational news event, and those who have already acquitted the players based on what they have heard -- from defense lawyers -- may be proved right. If they are, won't there be plenty of opportunity to rail against the other side? Shouldn't the judicial system be allowed to work without the accused being martyred, considering the long history in this country of black women being abused by white men of means?”
On May 26, he went after the women’s lacrosse team, loading on matters unrelated to the alleged rape to attack the "INNOCENT" message the women's team proposed to wear on its sweatbands:
“Innocent until ? Presumed innocence? Those are sweatband statements that would be more palatable. Even then, does cross-team friendship and university pride negate common sense at a college as difficult to gain admission to as Duke? Has anyone -- from the women's lacrosse coach, Kerstin Kimel, to the Duke president, Richard H. Brodhead -- reminded the players of the kind of behavior they are staking their own reputations on?
“On a men's program that, according to a recent report after an internal investigation, was described in 2005 by a dean for residential life and housing to be ‘building toward a train wreck.’ A program found to have 52 disciplinary incidents in the past five and a half years at a rate that was accelerating. A program that produced the fateful party on March 13 at which drinking and stripping were the primary attractions and racial epithets directed at two hired dancers were reported to the police by a neighbor.”
Of course, none of those unflattering details are admissable or even meaningful when it comes to the rape charge, and as time passes, the case against the three players looks less and less credible, as does the credibility of their accuser.
But don’t think Araton is avoiding tough issues as the case falls apart. Today’s missive is a hard-hitting fantasia about Roger Clemens and the future Hall of Fame pitcher’s constant retirements and returns. It’s no doubt sheer coincidence that his last seven columns haven’t addressed the Duke situation at all.
For more examples of New York Times bias, visit TimesWatch.